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Mercedes boss fears Red Bull 'major threat' at the F1 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Mercedes boss fears Red Bull 'major threat' at the F1 Hungarian Grand Prix
Jul 18, 2016, 1:21 PM

Toto Wolff is expecting Red Bull to mount a serious challenge to Mercedes at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix as the Budapest track plays to t...

Toto Wolff is expecting Red Bull to mount a serious challenge to Mercedes at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix as the Budapest track plays to the strengths of the RB12.

Mercedes heads to the 2.722-mile Hungaroring, which is the only circuit on the calendar where the team has not won since the V6 turbo power units were introduced at the start of 2014, with nine wins from the opening ten races of the 2016 Formula 1 season.

Max Verstappen’s victory in the Spanish Grand Prix, which followed the Mercedes drivers colliding on lap one, is the only time the German manufacturer has not won all year, although it was arguably fortunate to win the Monaco Grand Prix, where Daniel Ricciardo trailed home behind Lewis Hamilton after a long second pitstop.

Lewis Hamilton Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull’s pace at Monaco, where Ricciardo also claimed the first pole position of his career, was aided by the slow-speed nature of the track, which cut Mercedes power unit advantage.

This weekend’s race in Hungary is also a low-speed event and one where Red Bull has often gone well due to the squad’s renowned aerodynamic efficiency courtesy of Adrian Newey.

Ricciardo won the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix and Verstappen was impressive on his way to fourth place in last year’s race, which was won by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Daniel Ricciardo Hungary 2014

With both Red Bull drivers likely to be a threat in Budapest, Wolff reckons Mercedes will need to execute a perfect weekend to collect its first triumph in Hungary since Hamilton’s win in 2013.

He said: “This circuit has not been kind to us over the past two years and it plays to the strengths of our rivals. The Red Bull, for example, is a car that functions well where high drag isn't penalised as much as at other types of circuit.

“So, in wet conditions and at low-speed circuits such as the Hungaroring, they are a major threat. We will need to be flawless to come out on top at this track.”

XPB.cc Toto Wolff

Wolff also acknowledged that Mercedes is facing a tricky decision over when to focus all of its resources onto its 2017 car. Although the team holds a 131-point advantage over Ferrari in the constructors’ championship, the change to F1’s aero rules for next season means the competitive order could be shaken up if one team is able to find a significant advantage in a new area.

“We are also now entering a time where things are complicated even more by some big decisions to be made,” said Wolff. “Every week we must analyse how much resource we move across to the 2017 project - but that's a tricky balance.

“Some teams will have stopped 2016 development very early - as early as February maybe, once the current cars hit the circuit. That does give them an advantage, as the learning curve is very steep at the beginning. If you are a few weeks behind you can find yourselves much further back in the end. We may be halfway through the battle for this year - but the hard work is only just beginning.”

“Really strong mental attitude” boosting Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton, who has won four times in Hungary, described how a positive mental approach has helped him turn his season around with four victories since Rosberg won the opening four races and the pair crashed in Spain.

He said: “Ever since the low of Barcelona I've been able to cultivate this really strong mental attitude and I'm really feeling that fire inside me right now. Of course, I have good days and bad days like everyone else.

“But whatever the case, I'm able to turn negatives into positives when it counts. I'm feeling fresh, feeling powerful and feeling confident heading to Hungary. It's a track that for some reason has always suited my style and I have incredible support there, so I can't wait to get to out on track.”

Rosberg moves on from Silverstone penalty

Nico Rosberg

Rosberg was given post-race 10-second penalty for a breach of team radio rules last time out at Silverstone, and although that ruling meant his championship lead was cut to just one point, the German driver explained that he would not dwell on the decision.

He said: “Silverstone was a good weekend except for the loss of position following the Stewards' decision after the race. It was disappointing to lose a hard-fought and deserved second position in such a way - but we have accepted the decision and now I have to look forward with positivity.

“I am leading the World Championship coming up to the halfway point of the season and there's still a long way to go.”

Who do you think will win the Hungarian Grand Prix? Will Red Bull challenge Mercedes for the victory? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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Series Formula 1
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